January 23, 2012

Youth centre – Refundable tax credit for child assistance: when are we eligible?


The complaint

A citizen alleges that because incorrect information was sent to the Régie des Rentes du Québec by the youth centre where his child was lodged, the Régie cancelled his right to the refundable tax credit for child assistance and claimed $679.57 in overpayment.

The 15-year-old child has not been under his parents' care for nearly a year. At first he was lodged in a resource of the youth centre in question and then by a third party seeking "specific foster family" status. In a recent notice, the Régie informed the citizen that he no longer qualified for the refundable tax credit for child assistance because his son was not under his care anymore. The citizen maintains that the youth centre sent incorrect information to the Régie ("discontinued bond of filiation") and that this mistake was the reason why his right to the tax credit was wrongfully cancelled.

The investigation

  • The citizen, his son, and the person authorized by the director of youth protection had signed an agreement on the voluntary measures for the child's placement.
  • This agreement stipulates that the child would be entrusted to a third person who had already begun steps to be considered a "specific foster family." However, later the measures were revised and the son's placement was postponed until the person was "recognized as a foster family."
  • Section 512 of the Act respecting health services and social services states that "the Government shall determine, by regulation, the contribution that may be required of users lodged in a facility maintained by a public and private institution under agreement, or taken in charge by an intermediate resource of a public institution or by a family-type resource."
  • Section 348 of the Regulation respecting the application of the Act respecting health services and social services states that "where a child is placed in a foster family or reception centre, the social service centre responsible for placing the child, or any other social service centre acting on its behalf, shall require a contribution in accordance with this Subdivision."
  • At the time, the third party providing lodging was not considered a family-type resource or a resource of the youth centre within the meaning of the legislation in force. That is why the youth centre did not require a financial contribution to cover part of the cost of lodging for the young boy during this period.
  • To obtain the refundable tax credit for child assistance, citizens must pay a financial contribution when their child is placed in a residential resource of a youth centre.
  • The youth centre did not inform the Régie that the bond of filiation had been discontinued, but rather that his lodging in one of its resources had been interrupted.
  • Afterwards, the person entrusted with the child was recognized as a foster family and, consequently, the youth centre required a parental contribution for the child's placement. The youth centre also informed the Régie that the child was now lodged in one of its resources. The Régie was able to reinstate the citizen's right to the refundable tax credit for child assistance effective immediately.

The Québec Ombudsman's conclusions

The Québec Ombudsman concludes that the youth centre complied with the legal and regulatory provisions in force.

  • Given the above, the Québec Ombudsman did not make any recommendation.